Inova Labs gets picky with providers

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas - Inova Labs isn't going to sell its portable oxygen concentrator, LifeChoice, to just any old HME provider.

"To the HME who says, 'I just want a couple of units,' the answer is, 'No,'" said President David Shockley. "I'm interested in the one who says, 'I agree. We need to change our business model. We need to go non-delivery. We have to expand. We have to add new patients. Let's do this together.' That is the company we are looking for."

After a soft rollout in 2009, Inova Labs began marketing LifeChoice nationally in the summer of 2010. The company used Medtrade in November to tell the industry that, "we are a substantial company," Shockley said.

When it comes to POCs, Inova Labs is the latest in a long line of companies that manufactures the units. The competition doesn't bother Shockley, who says the 4.9-pound LifeChoice is clinically effective and helps providers cut costs by reducing deliveries. Other POC manufacturers make the same promise, but Inova Labs brings something else to the table, Shockley said: PR and marketing campaigns that drive customers to the company's preferred providers.

"We don't just sell them our product," he said. "They have to be able to add new patient billing. That is the key, and that is what we come in and help them get."

These days, respiratory providers need to grow their patient base to offset declining reimbursement. The way to do that is with POCs because the "days of tanks are over," and providers who refuse to change are in for some tough times, Shockley said.

"Caregivers are going to start showing up in the lobbies of HMEs saying, "Why did you send my parent home with a tank?'" he said. "In this day and age, oxygen tanks are ridiculous. You might as well hand them a typewriter, too."

Inova Labs is a spin-off off International Biophysics, a 20-year-old medical device manufacturer. The company has financial backing from Three Arch Partners, a private equity group that specializes in "creating new healthcare companies in markets with significant unmet clinical or infrastructure needs."